February Short Movie (etc) Reviews

Slum Dog Millionaire – A clever, well-strung together film which was thrilling to watch and had a great soundtrack. Occasionally violent, often joyful, and more entertaining than educational, I suspect, but very good at that. Obviously, I enjoyed it, but it hasn’t really stuck with me and I’m not sure yet why.

Cressida Campbell exhibition – My aunt took us to see this and the works were very lovely: large scale, bold and delicate watercolour woodcuts. The technique Campbell uses is to draw the picture onto the wood, carve out the lines, colour it directly with thick watercolour, then dampen the block and take a print off it. Several prints were displayed with their blocks, and there was such an architectural/design quality to them. Beautiful Australian scenes. I can’t afford the exhibition book, but it is lovely and printed on thick textured paper (although it can’t capture the scale and light of the exhibition).

Gran Torino – One of the few movies where the purpose-written song over the credits didn’t offend. As for whether the rest of the movie did… I was wondering. On one level I enjoyed it, especially the acting which at first seemed amateurish and became really compelling (the casting and simplicity of the movie were good and daring choices), but the sheer quantity of vitriol that Eastwood’s character was capable of seemed so excessive it was caricatured. The movie was meant to be a critique of racism, but I wasn’t always sure it worked, and wanted to get the point of view of someone more nearly affected.  And I found this really great review, and lost the link. It might have been this one from reappropriate, who found it nauseating. By contrast, here’s a review from Geo on Racialicious, who found positives. Whether or not you see the movie (and I did like that song), the reviews are worth reading.

He’s Just Not That Into You – I… liked this. It wasn’t brilliant, and certainly the morality was occasionally absent, occasionally odd and often confused. But it managed to do what most romantic comedies don’t: a well-handled ensemble cast not overshadowed by the bigger stars; a satisfyingly but not excessively intricate plot; and humour that wasn’t (a) crass or (b) all in the preview and left out of the movie. Faint praise, maybe, but pretty high for the genre.

Rachel’s Getting Married – A painful, odd and occasionally excessively self-indulgent film, but with some remarkable performances, a good treatment of the love and nastiness in sibling relationships and some really touching/quirky family scenes: the musicians annoying everyone by playing, the planning of table settings and the dishwasher race were particularly memorable.

Also, music:

Washington Square Serenade “City of Immigrants” was playing on the radio a lot, and I loved it and it turned out to be by Steve Earle (“Copperhead Road”). I’m glad I bought the album. It’s country seguing into a folky/ballad style which I love – parts of some songs reminded me of Bright Eyes (go figure) and Chumbawumba-not-I-get-knocked-down-again-but-their-folk/political/protest-stuff (this is now how I refer to that band). It weakened in the middle, but there were some stand-outs: “Tennessee Blues”; “Down Here Below”, a Tom Waites/Tom Petty-esque song of New York from the point of view of a red tailed hawk; “City Of Immigrants”  –  “I don’t need to go travellin’, open the door and the world walks in”; “Days Aren’t Long Enough” – a love song which I didn’t like the first time, and then began to listen to on repeat. But obviously my views on the weaker songs aren’t shared, because I see the album won a Grammy for best folk/americana album.

War Child – Heroes – I’m a sucker for rewrites, covers, reimaginings, allusions, spoofs and updates, so I was looking forward to this album of old(er) songs covered by young(er) artists. Nothing stood out like Cat Empire singing “Hotel California” in French reggae-style on Triple J’s Like a Version, but it was still pretty good to hear some of these covers.

7 thoughts on “February Short Movie (etc) Reviews

  1. Re. #1 – I am sorry, but there must be something wrong with you.

    Re. #4 – I am sorry, but there must be something wrong with you.

    But seriously, SM is still blowing me away three months after seeing it, although it’s true that the music video-style camera manoeuvres felt a bit alienating at times. Perhaps this explains your non-lingering impression. Re. the “educational” comment, Salman Rushdie !hated! it, and mentioned this in a great article on book-film adaptations in the Review liftout section in last week’s Weekend Australian.

    HJNTIY was awful. I felt insulted. There was no morality, and no likeable (or even convincing) characters. One third of the way through, I started thinking about a mince recipe for dumplings I was going to make when I got home, and resolved that I was going to use a whole egg, not just the white like the recipe advised, because that’s just a waste of an egg… and that train of thought was more interesting than the film.

  2. :)
    I feel like SM ought to have blown me away for longer than it did – just not sure what happened there.

    I get what you’re saying about HJNTIY – my reaction was probably because it was better than so many in its genre, which says less about the movie than the genre!

  3. I’m with you on Slumdog Millionaire, except that I think I was more underwhelmed than you. I liked it, and am glad I saw it, but didn’t think it was exceptional or contained the profound messages/insights that many other people seem to think it did.

  4. SM is exciting because it is such a good, original narrative; a well told story. I didn’t find any profundities either.

    I liked Ginnifer Goodwin’s outfits

  5. Deborah, I agree, it’s especially nice to have an original story doing so well in a time when other hits are sequels or remakes or shallow things that seemed to have required no work.

    And the outfits WERE amazing :)

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